The Directorate of Medical Education and Research has decided to continue with the ‘bridge course’ in Maharashtra, which allows for practitioners of alternative medicine, the study of basic allopathy. The Union cabinet has dropped this course out from the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.
Admitting 1,200 students across 24 government and private colleges in the state, the theory classes for the second batch of this course have already begun. Dr. K D Chavan, Maharashtra University of Health Science Registrar, stated that the sanction to initiate the one-year certificate course in modern pharmacology in 2016-17 was accorded by the academic council. The first batch had seen 700 admissions of registered homeopathic practitioners, who had taken the exams. The results of the exams were announced in March 2018.
Dr. Pravin Shingare, the Director of Medical Education and Research, Maharashtra, said that while the Centre may have dropped the bridge course from the NMC bill, it has still given the states the right to choose for themselves- whether they wished to continue with it or not. He added, “We will continue with this certificate course.”
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) does not support the decision of the Maharahtra government and displayed its displeasure openly. IMA, Maharashtra, Youth Wing President, Dr. Sagar Mundada claimed the importance of all courses but expressed his discontentment by saying, “Trying to practice another pathy with half-baked knowledge of a bridge course is criminal to the patients’ interests. (It) should not be allowed at any cost.” He called this decision a catastrophe.
Secretary of the state unit of IMA, Parthiv Sanghvi, mentioned that their main concern was cross pathy. The IMA has threatened to withdraw medical services and pose a major agitation if the NMC bill is passed. Dr. Padma Iyer, the President of the Pune unit of IMA calls the bridge course unethical.
This strong opposition to the course is met by supporters from the homeopathic community. Dr. Percy Bharucha, a registered homeopathy practitioner from Mumbai, demanded the right of the Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy (AYUSH) doctors to be allowed to deal with modern medicines.
The former President of the Maharashtra Homeopathy Council, Dr. Bahubali Shah, added that the bridge course provides the opportunity to improve on the existing basic knowledge of allopathy and have a better understanding about allopathic drugs.